Sharmila Tagore: More Tagore works should be translated in Hindi Movies (Interview)

Sharmila Tagore Morning Walk

The legacy of Rabindranath Tagore should reach the masses across the country on his 150th birth anniversary in 2011 with more translations in Hindi, says yesteryears actress Sharmila Tagore, herself a scion of the Tagore family.

Sharmila is the great grand-daughter of Rabindranath Tagore’s nephew Gaganendranath Tagore, considered one of the finest early modern painters in the country. She is currently in the capital on a personal mission.

‘The Nobel Laureate’s 150th birth anniversary is a great occasion for young people across India, who are not aware of his work, to know the poet’s literary and artistic achievements. His literature and art are like an ocean. More of his literary works should be translated in Hindi than in English,’ Tagore, who is also the censor board chief, told IANS.

The censor board chief said she and her family have taken ‘several initiatives to carry Tagore to the masses throughout the year’.

‘We are not part of the government’s National Implementation Committee on Tagore’s 150th Birth Anniversary. We are working privately,’ she said.

The leading lady of yesteryears, who is Nawab of Pataudi’s Mansur Ali Khan’s wife, said ‘last week she visited a school and found that Bengali pronunciations varied from student to student’.

‘A 10-year-old student recited a Bengali poem ‘Chitta Jetha Bhoi Shunya’ (Where the Mind is Without Fear) and his Bengali diction was perfect. It was such a joy. I think every generation must know the depth of Tagore’s works,’ she said.

Sharmila has a ‘modest collection of art from the family of Tagore at her home’.

‘However, most of them are by Rabindranath Tagore’s nephew Gaganendranath and his brother Abanindranath Tagore. I love Gaganendranath’s Puri landscapes. The purity of the compositions move me. I like the wash paintings by Baroda Ukil and Sharoda Ukil, students of Abanindranath Tagore,’ she said.

Gaganendranath, who had mastered the European water colour technique and experimental art, was probably the first Indian artist of the school of modernism to explore the French style of painting in India. He is known for his paintings of the Puri temple.

Abanindranath Tagore honed his skill as a painter of water colour compositions. He was also influenced by Mughal and Rajput art.

Filial roots in art gives Sharmila a ‘discerning sense of appreciation of art’, the actress admits.

‘Come to my house and you will see all kinds of art. I am not a critic, but a lover of art. When art was still affordable, we managed to build a small collection at home. I love the works of Anjolie Ela Menon, Ganesh Pyne, Sanjay Bhattacharya, V.S. Gaitonde and K.M. Adimoolam,’ she said.

She likes Sanjay Bhattacharya’s landscapes and Paresh Maity’s boats ‘though bulk of the art in her personal collection is figurative’.

Sharmila has authored the text for Paresh Maity’s pictorial biography, ‘The World On A Canvas’, released by the Art Alive Gallery in March.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at

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